Ray Bradbury’s three – brutally honest – rules for writers…

April 7, 2011

“Work is the only answer. I have three rules to live by. One, get your work done. If that doesn’t work, shut up and drink your gin. And when all else fails, run like hell!” – Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203, The Paris Review

And people wonder why I wear my sneakers year round

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Public washroom cell phone etiquette – Lesson #1

April 1, 2011

RIIIIING~ RIIIIING~ RIIIIING~The woman answered her cell mid-flush. I listened in on the short conversation from the next stall – because you know the one thing classier than answering a phone on the toilet is eavesdropping in a Walmart public washroom.

After telling the caller she’d phone him/her back, she hung up and started carping to her real-time companion on the other side of my monkey-in-the-middle stall:

“I hate answering my phone when I’m on the can!”

“Ya, me too,” agreed the friend. “Who was that anyway?”

“I have no idea.”

Maybe I’m a luddite, or just a stubborn hold-out when it comes to that quaint little concept of personal privacy, but I can’t help wondering why any phone HAS to be answered the moment it starts ringing. I suppose, like new mothers, we’re all programmed to respond to the wailings of the people who need us, but what about the mystery? The anticipation? At least wait out the flush, people. At least the flush!


Born in a Walmart parking lot… The Urban Yoke

March 1, 2011

Ever notice how a shopping cart is almost exactly the size of a car’s trunk? Both can comfortably fit a body and/or the spoils of a Sunday morning mission to Walmart. This revelation came too late for yours truly, who recently found herself stranded in the middle of a snowy Walmart parking lot with a cart’s worth pile of loot heaped at her feet, but no car, no trunk, and no options – and stubbornness can only take a girl so far.

Behold... The Urban Yoke (and delightful shadow angel - who watches over those of us foolish enough to buy more than we can carry)Just then, a small sedan pulled up out of nowhere. The driver opened his door and leaned out. “Are you ok? Do you need a hand there?”

Now, I’m a great believer in chivalry; I take an opened door with all due grace and appreciation. But I draw the line at accepting rides – however fortuitous – from strange men in Walmart parking lots, men who quite possibly spend their Sunday mornings trolling said parking lots for bodies to fit snugly into their trunks.

“No thanks,” I said, with all due grace and appreciation, “I’m fine. It’s just a question of logistics.”


Now, I’m also a great believer in creative problem solving. I took a fresh look at all my available resources (excluding the man who gave me a weird look before driving off). Eureka! And the ‘Urban Yoke’ was born! Note toilet paper back padding. After a joyous stroll home (ok I’ll be honest here, it was still one heck of a trudge) I pulled the hubby out of bed to come take a picture of my genius. He also gave me a weird look, especially when I described my vision for an ergonomically molded, carbon fiber version for Mountain Equipment Coop. I guess some of us are just ahead of our time….and other people don’t buy more than they can carry, sigh.


The fallibility of statistics when applied to housework and husbands

January 24, 2011

I came home to find that I had won our latest Mexican Standoff. The dishes were done (sweet joy!), but there was a small debris pile on the counter by the stove.

“Dude!” I called to hubby from the kitchen (after thanking the man for backing down first – of course). “You can’t have broken two cups doing the dishes once. That’s a statistical impossibility!”

“Not when you drop one cup on the other one. Oh, and we need new dish gloves too – one of the fingers ripped open.”

Sound logic, sure, but the man had no explanation for his forth casualty; discovered the next day, when I was only three inches away from slicing my lip open on its splintered glass rim.

Well, I suppose I now know why it’s always the bull in the china shop, and never the steer – statistically speaking…


The dangers of reading over other people’s shoulders

January 20, 2011

It’s 7:54AM and the bus is packed. I’m squished in by the back doors, trying not to make eye and/or backpack contact with any of my fellow sufferers. The plump, mousy haired, maternal archetype in the seat in front of me is engrossed in a thick novel. I’ve always been jealous of those lucky people whose stomachs let them read on transit. I sneak a peak, anything to keep from thinking about how late we all are. Etiquette aside, what’s the harm in sharing a sentence?

“She sits down and offers Mandy a breast.”

Wowsers! (a term I never use lightly) This woman, lost in her own private world of forbidden lusts – and so early in the morning too! – blows apart my first impression. I look around… so many books, so many secrets. Who are you when you think nobody’s looking? I can’t resist a second sentence…

“The baby latches on…”

Sigh.


Harvard Medical School’s FIVE Keys To Happiness

January 13, 2011

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Whether you’re determined to shed that extra turkey weight or change careers, the end goal is always the same… to increase your happiness. One current scientific theory, substantiated by reams of research, is that we are all born with a genetic happiness ‘set point’. But just because you were a gnarly teen, or mopey twentysomething, it doesn’t mean you’re condemned to live out the rest of your life in emo purgatory. According to Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, there are five key lifestyle tweaks we all can make to maximize our happiness:

1. Practice using our strengths, particularly our virtues (ie: curiousity, compassion)

2. Practice internal and external gratitude for what we have, and towards the people who show us love and generousity

3. Savour the moment by practicing mindfulness (seriously, have you ever truly experienced an orange? Its intricacies of form and flavour will blow your mind)

4. Engage in the process (ie: feeling ‘in the zone’ while writing, or heck, even knitting)

5. Live meaningfully by serving others rather than our own egos (my own ego is pouting in a corner over this one, but no amount of whining can refute the piles of evidence supporting #5)

So go forth and be happy! Not buying it? Ok, ok, so go forth and be happier! I just can’t believe that Harvard hasn’t caught on to #6. But whatever path or key you choose, don’t forget that the rollercoaster is what drives the magic. So go forth and click out of this embarrassingly Oprah-atic post and get back to surfing this grand ol’ distraction from mortality we call the web. I suggest Youtube, because you never know when you’ll click your way into a wee spot of wisdom.


A sure sign it’s time to do the dishes…

November 26, 2010

“Can you get me a plate?” called hubby from the living room.

“Um… there are no plates,” I answered from the kitchen.

He didn’t skip a beat. “Or something plate-like then?”

With all due pomp and circumstance, I presented my man with a Tupperware lid.

In the years since the renegotiation of THE (infamous) DEAL – a politically charged, highly controversial, bit of newlywed legislation – we’ve held a long running Mexican Standoff over the dishes. And, much like the World War II era housewives who fashioned ball gowns out of mattress ticking, we weather each long siege (before the inevitable dish soap blitz) with resourcefulness and creativity. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but in our Calgary apartment, invention’s maternal grandparents go by the names ‘stubbornness’ and ‘procrastination’.